As most of you know, I have been pretty excited about this film for quite awhile now. I am not one of the people who hated Superman Returns, but after a few viewings, I can acknowledge some of it’s problems. I also enjoyed Smallville and was happy to see that this movie decided to take some of the better elements from each and incorporated them into this film.
There will probably be some spoilers involved. Also, please do not comment about the differences between the movies and comics. I am not comparing the movie to comics.
The movie begins on Krypton. Kal-El is born in a natural birth, apparently the first one in hundreds of years. After that, his father, Jor-El goes to a council meeting and explains that the planet is dying and that the only way to save Krypton is by heading to the stars like their ancestors.
Unfortunately, General Zod is planning a coup d’etat, which forces Jor-El to steal something called the Codex. He places it with his son and sends him to Earth. Zod comes and murders Jor-El, but is then arrested by the Kryptonians and sentenced to the Phantom Zone. Sometime later the planet explodes and everyone dies.
This is similar to how Superman II started, but this time they explained what Zod’s plan was and they gave us a little insight into Kryptonian culture. Apparently they genetically engineer all children to either be warriors, workers, scientists, etc. This has somehow caused their genetic code to tie to Krypton and they cannot leave (this was something from the comics as well). Jor-El wants to go back to when a time when people chose what they wanted to do.
The movie then shifts 33 years later and we see Clark Kent working on a fishing boat. He then saves some men on an oil rig. He drifts from job to job and keeps helping people. There are some flashbacks that explain how he grew up and how his father, Jonathon revealed his alien heritage to him.
Clark discovers a Kryptonian ship, which is from tens of thousands of years ago and was one of the colony ships sent by Krypton. Earth was an ancient outpost for them. Clark uses the key that was inside his ship and he is able to learn from his true father all about his heritage.
This is about the time that General Zod comes to Earth with a bunch of his soldiers. Apparently when Krypton exploded, they were able to break free of their prison. Zod makes a demand to the people of Earth, give up Kal-El and he will not destroy the planet. Clark, now wearing his Superman suit, surrenders to the military (mainly because Lois Lane has been arrested for not giving up his identity).
After that, a huge fight between the evil Kryptonians and Superman ensues. Naturally Clark defeats them and sends them all back to the Phantom Zone, except for Zod. They have an awesome battle and Clark is forced to kill Zod before he kills a bunch of innocent people.
One of the things they really took from Superman Returns was the idea that Jor-El sent his son to Earth with a purpose and that he wanted him to help the humans. This also harkens back to the original Superman movies as well and I do not think that is something you can really drop. Those lines about “they will stumble and they will fall, but eventually they will join you in the sun.” That was very similar to the line from the original movies, but it rings true and gives me chills each time. We actually get to see that moment, when Perry White and the other journalist save the lady trapped under some rubble. A moment where humans rise up. Superman would be proud.
Also, one of my favorite things from Smallville, was the idea of how the world would react if Clark ever revealed himself. Jonathon was always against Clark exposing himself. In this movie, he goes as far as saying that he should allow people to die because they would not be ready to see what he can do. Jonathon makes the ultimate sacrifice to teach his son that lesson.
His father was correct though. When Clark first shows up as Superman, the military wants him in cuffs and they do not trust him. The people also run from him during one of the fight scenes, until they realize just how much he is trying to save them. Then they embrace them.
Another Smallville element was the struggle Clark has with reconciling his Kryptonian and human heritage. Early in the movie, Clark is an outsider, he is afraid to fit in. At one point it was not hard to imagine him maybe siding with Zod. Luckily though, he remembers his father and mother. Also, Zod makes the mistake of threatening Martha Kent. Whoa, big mistake dude.
Now it is time for some bullet points of the things I enjoyed:
-The acting was fantastic. Russell Crowe was fantastic as Jor-El. Henry Cavill was great as Superman. Hell everyone was awesome in the film. Michael Shannon was his normal creepy, scary self. He really brought the rage that was needed to be afraid of him.
-I loved the line after they finally kissed: “They say it only goes downhill after the first kiss.” Superman’s response: “That only applies for kissing humans.” I could be paraphrasing.
-The battle between Zod and Superman was what I have been hoping for from a Superman movie after the final Matrix movie. Two superpowered guys flying all over, just beating the crap out of each other.
-Lois Lane actually seemed like a real reporter. She bit into a story and eventually tracked down the fact that Clark was the guy who saved her and that he was an alien. She quickly realizes that she cannot run her story and jeopardize Clark’s freedom.
-Introducing Clark to the Daily Planet at the end of the movie. We have seen the whole Clark changing to Superman before, it was nice to see how he became Superman and everything else is just minor details.
Here are a few nitpicky things:
-Why did Jor-El have a giant dragonfly instead of a flying car like everyone else? It just did not mesh with a technology driven, warrior culture. I sat there thinking about that for the first ten minutes. A little distracting.
-Did they really have to go the ancient aliens route? I kept waiting for Giorgio Tsoukalos to pop up and say “SEE! ALIENS!” At least some small crystal did not create the Fortress of Solitude. I always find it hard to believe that no one can find his Fortress. This time the military discovers something buried in the ice and it is just a spaceship.
So what did you think of the movie?
Comic Book Movie Grade: A-